May 27, 2010

Super Jetpack Dragon IV

I got a notice about Super Jetpack Dragon IV a day or two ago. It looked interesting and thus I knew it was a title worth reviewing. But one thing that always intrigues me when I learn of a new game is checking out the developer's website and learning that I've played one (or more) of their other games in the past... in this case 'The Battle of Pirate Bay' on the iPhone. It's also interesting to me when devs are more open about their process versus trying to impress me with that big, corporate look. You see, I think we're in an age when things have become too impersonal and people want to deal with people. Case in point this article on their website about the similarities of the submission process between the Apple App Store and the Android Market which shows a very human side of the company:

App Store vs Android Market Thoughts

So what's the game like? Super Jetpack Dragon IV is a mouthful and will hereby be known as SJD. In this game you're a dragon (with a mount, I think... but that doesn't matter) and you're a menace to the countryside. Why? Because it's there. You're racing from left to right on a scrolling landscape scooping up food, burning down villages, and plundering walls. The controls are simple and are explained everything you run the game which I wish was not the case. I would much rather have a separate 'How to Play' button. Not to mention the instructions omit a key part of the game and that's the energy meter in the upper right of the screen and the fact that both hovering and breathing fire deplete it. That will most likely become obvious while playing, though, as it was for me.

The landscapes have a slight cartoony feeling, and are smoothly drawn. The parallax scrolling is pretty smooth although I do detect a bit of jerkiness here and there. Controls are responsive and other than the fact that when my dragon plummets to his death it sounds like a guy saying 'Ahhhhhh!' the sound is decent.

This game is arcade game all the way. After initially feeling like this was going to be a Sonic clone I now feel like it's more of an advanced (very advanced) SFCave. Perhaps Mini Plane would be a closer analogy. You are always moving forward... and you have to jump and attack at the right time to rack up points. As the game progresses there's a little bit more to it with avoid things like dragons, but it's really all about racking up points. Unfortunately, for what it is... the game is big and until Android 2.2 is available for me it's 15 MB size is a problem. I don't fault the developers for that as I, personally, wouldn't waste the resources of pushing stuff to the SD card knowing Android 2.2 will take care of that problem for me.

The developers indicate that there's more coming. I'm hoping more also means 'The Battle of Pirate Bay'. In the meantime, SJD is a solid arcade title that doesn't have a lot of depth, but is worth of playing a few games here and there while waiting for a train or competing for a high score. And with scores being the central reason to keep playing leader boards would be nice. 4/5 stars.

Edit: I had a chance to check out the iPhone version of this game and the only real difference is that they do have leader boards... so obviously the dev is well aware of this as a good feature.

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